Simulating Bakelite

A project log for N64 Retro Emulation Station conversion

This project is to build a standalone retro emulation station using the Cubieboard 2 (Arm A20) inside a modified N64 console

RetroplayerRetroplayer 04/07/2014 at 15:300 Comments

With a few failed experiments in tinting the lens (and not having the display yet anyway) I decided to start working on the rest of the enclosure. I want my console to look like bakelite. So I browsed the local hardware store for paints and found a rich brown gloss paint that looked just like bakelite. I tested it out on the top half of the guinea pig enclosure.

It came out really nice. But the texture of the N64 showed through. I might need to sand all the texture down to enhance the gloss and look more bakelite-like.

Also, I bondoed the nintendo logo in the back, but it still showed up. I am planning to fill it with 2 part epoxy instead as soon as I can figure out how to build a little pressure tool to push the epoxy flat into the logo. Brainstorming a syringe and a custom shaped box made airtight. The epoxy sets up in 5 minutes, which is actually a long time to apply pressure to a syringe. Maybe I am just impatient.

I also removed the controller ports which are soldered onto the main board of the N64. I had to unsolder them, pull out the pins and then used a drill to gut the centers of them. I will be installing USB ports inside them and will fill around the port. Not sure if I will be using sugru or epoxy putty to do this. I need to do some thinking because I intend to chrome these. If I mold in the USB ports first, I will need a way to mask them off when I paint.

The feet, power and reset buttons will also be chromed. Previously when using chrome spray paint, I didn't have much luck. So it will take some experimentation to get it to work. I could have them actually chrome plated, but this is pretty costly.

Finally, I ordered some nice brass mesh with a high copper content which will be installed in all the vents as well as the cartridge opening. The idea is to simulate speaker grills. I had considered drywall patch screen and electroplating it, as well as looked around for nice patterned screens, but didn't really find anything affordable or desirable.

Sigh... I have access to a 3D Printer (It's a Cube, so don't get too excited) at work but do not have enough experience to design 3D parts yet. So I will be sticking to all the old methods of fabrication that I am used to. I can't help but think how much easier this would be using the 3D printer though.

Anyway, the parts will be arriving throughout this week, so I will be taking plenty of pictures and updating this project as I go. My intention is log everything, including my failures, all the way up to connecting up the finished product and demoing it. I also expect to have many questions along the way and would really appreciate any suggestions, feedback, or help in the comments.